Benefits of Strength Training at Any Age!
Raise your hand if you would like to sit down and stand up on your own when you are 80 years old? Great! Just make sure you add strength training twice a week to your schedule. Let me explain why! First, let’s define strength training: Strength training includes exercises that stress your muscles when working against resistance like your own body weight, resistance bands, free weights, or machines. For example, you use your body weight as resistance when you do a push-up.
There are many benefits to strength training. Today I’m going to focus on the following three:
- Increase Bone Strength
- Decrease Body Fat
- Prevent Chronic Pain
1. Increase Bone Strength
According to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), our bones are the strongest at age 18 if you’re a woman and at age 20 if you’re a man. Once you hit 30, your bones start to get weaker. According to WebMD, about 50% of women 50 and older will have an osteoporosis-related fracture in their lifetime. But by stressing your bones, strength training can increase bone density and reduce the risk of osteoporosis.
Let me explain how we can stress bones.
Your skeleton is dressed with muscles. Muscles attach to bones with their tendons. When the bicep muscle shortens, it brings up the lower arm. This looks like a bicep curl, right?
If I place a 3lbs weight in my hand, I can do this for hours. But if I grab a 15lbs weight, I may be able to do 15 reps until the muscle fatigues. That’s the keyword – fatigue! You have to go to fatigue. Bones are living tissues stimulated when you fatigue the muscle. That’s how you stress the bones with strength training.
2. Decrease Body Fat
When you get on the scale, it says one number. That number doesn’t tell you how much of that is LEAN body weight and how much is FAT body weight. Lean body weight = Muscles, Organs, Bone, Skin, Water, etc. Things we all need to have, right? We do need some fat as well. According to Kari Hartel, a Registered Dietitian, for optimal health for men, this range is 10-25%, and for women, it’s 18-30%. The goal is the same for men and women; to keep the lean muscle mass high and to keep the body fat mass low.
Unfortunately, lean muscle mass naturally diminishes with age. If you don’t do anything to replace the skeletal muscle you lose over time, you’ll increase the percentage of fat in your body. Strength training can help you preserve and enhance your muscle mass at any age. My client Marilyn started to work out in her mid-seventies. After just a few months, she began to get comments about people seeing her muscle definition. It’s never too late to start strength training. Just make sure you are consistent. According to a Danish study, it takes only two weeks of physical inactivity for those who are physically fit to lose a significant amount of their muscle strength.
Low Back Pain affects almost everybody!
3. Prevent Chronic Pain
Let’s focus on a common one – low back pain. According to a blog by Stenosis, Spinal low back pain affects almost everybody (80% of adults) at some point, and it is the most common cause of disability in Americans under the age of 45.
Imagine someone you know with bad posture. The head weighs about 14 lbs. and it will keep the back muscles continually working. If you strengthen the core, the buttock muscles, and the upper back muscles, you will have created a strong defense. This will keep you from giving in to gravity. According to the Mayo Clinic, strength training can reduce the signs and symptoms of many chronic conditions, such as back pain.
A client of mine, Bob, has been working out with me since he was 60 years old. In the beginning, it was all about managing his back pain.
It got so much better that one day I never heard him complain about his back anymore. That was 15 years ago.
If you have pain, don’t ignore it. Do something about it, and please don’t blame it on age.
As a fitness expert for 25 years for the 50+ population, I have witnessed fantastic progress and results for people that have stayed consistent over time. I’m sure you can see how it’s all related. Weak bones, weak muscles equals pain. Strong bones, healthy muscles equals less pain and more quality of life.
According to ACSM (American College of Sports Medicine), strength training should be performed at least twice a week with 8-10 different exercises that target all major muscle groups. And of course, you must do them correctly to avoid injuries. And that is exactly what the Nordic Body System is all about.
Every month you can try out my free online program Complimentary Cardio + Strength Online Session to get a taste of the Nordic Body System to see if it’s a good fit.